Goat Island
Image: Piotr Zurek | Creative Commons


Cape Rodney-Okakari Point lies north of Auckland. The marine reserve offers some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities close to Auckland. Visitors can also enjoy swimming, kayaking and walking on the beach.


No dogs allowed on Hauraki Gulf island reserves

No dogs.

To protect our native species, dogs are not allowed on island conservation reserves in the Hauraki Gulf.


Place overview


  • Boating
  • Diving and snorkelling
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Walking and tramping


  • Information panels
  • Toilets
  • Marine reserves
    Protect our marine reserves

    They are special places that protect the species and habitats within them.

    • No fishing of any kind
    • Don't take or kill marine life
    • Don't remove or disturb any marine life or materials
    • Don't feed fish - it disturbs their natural behaviour
    • Take care when anchoring to avoid damaging the sea floor
    • Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) to report any illegal activity

In this section

Find things to do Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island)

About track difficulties

Guided activities

  • Glass Bottom Boat – tours at the marine reserve, world renowned for its abundant marine life.
  • Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre – visitors of all ages can explore, discover and experience unique marine environment from a large tide pool of marine creatures. 
  • Goat Island Dive & Snorkel – hire or buy snorkel and dive equipment, guided snorkelling, dive experiences and courses from entry to professional levels.

Diving and snorkelling

Beneath the waves is a variety of habitats with its own creatures: seaweed forests provide nurseries for scores of coastal animals, while deeper waters host sea squirts, anemones, sponges, and tube worms.

Safety note: It is recommended that visitors swim or dive in pairs. Snorkelers, particularly those who are not strong swimmers or used to swimming in the open sea, are strongly advised to wear a wetsuit or life jacket, or take another flotation device such as a boogie board when snorkelling in the marine reserve. Beginners should keep near the shore to avoid the deceptive currents and rips in this bay.

Explore rock pools

At low tide you can find many varieties of fish, shellfish, sea stars, crabs, and other creatures.

Kayaking and canoeing

If you don’t want to get into the water, you can see the marine reserve by kayak, or kayak around Te Hāwere-a-Maki/Goat Island. This island, 150 m offshore, is included in the marine reserve. Kayaks can be hired at Leigh, and on Goat Island Road on the way to the marine reserve.

Safety note: Inexperienced paddlers should take care with the sea conditions and currents.


The nearest boat launching ramp to the marine reserve is in Leigh Harbour (also called Omaha Cove), just below the township of Leigh. Boaties are welcome to navigate and anchor carefully in the reserve.

Extra caution may be needed in some areas because of the number of divers and swimmers. Do not exceed five knots within 200 m of the shore or a dive flag, or within 50 m of any other boat or person in the water.

Boats can enter the marine reserve after fishing outside its boundaries, but fishing rods should be stowed out of sight while visiting the marine reserve. Remember, do not feed the fish or discharge anything into the water.

Record your observations

Go to NatureWatch NZ  and post observations of species you find here. 


Kiwi Guardians programme

Take your family on a Kiwi Guardians adventure. Kiwi Guardians is a free, fun and easy way for 6-10 year olds to get to know this special place - grab a map, go and explore, and earn a reward! More about Kiwi Guardians

Find out about the region, and book accommodation, guided trips and experiences.

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    About this place

    Nature and conservation

    Extending from Cape Rodney to Okakari Point, the marine reserve includes the waters 800 m from shore including Te Hāwere-a-Maki/Goat Island.

    The University of Auckland's Leigh Marine Laboratory is based next to the reserve. Its scientists make regular studies to discover how a marine ecosystem functions without harvesting or intervention. Be careful around any scientific equipment you may come across in the reserve.

    Beneath the waves you may see seaweed forests, sponge gardens, and all the creatures of the rocky shore. The fish in the reserve are abundant and friendly.  

    Find out how the marine reserve status has helped sea life in the area.

    History and culture

    Motu Hāwere is of central importance to the identity of Ngāti Manuhiri. The area is an iconic reminder of the early origins of Ngāti Manuhiri and their links with the earlier iwi of the area - Wakatūwhenua being the landing place of the Moekakara waka captained by Tahuhunuiarangi.

    Motu Hāwere which shelters Wakatūwhenua, has the longer traditional name of Te Hāwere ā Maki. This sacred name is associated with Maki who led the conquest of the area in the late seventeenth century. Maki was the father of Manuhiri, the founding ancestor of Ngāti Manuhiri. The mana and mauri of this name and landmark, and the waters that surround it, is thus of immense significance to the iwi. The island was occupied as a pā by the Ngāti Manuhiri warrior ancestor Maeaea, who was a grandson of Manuhiri. It was on the basis of descent from Maeaea that Ngāti Manuhiri received title to Motu Hāwere in 1901.

    The adjoining land was maintained as a kāinga and cultivation by Ngāti Manuhiri for many generations until after early European settlement. The land, known as the Wakatūwhenua Block, part of which forms the Leigh Recreation Reserve, was specifically reserved from sale to the Crown at the request of the Ngāti Manuhiri rangatira Te Kiri in 1861.

    Getting there

    The marine reserve is about one and a half hours’ drive north of Auckland, near Leigh. Take SH1 to Warkworth and follow the Goat Island Marine Reserve signs.

    Know before you go

    The marine reserve is unsuitable for in-the-water activities during east or north-east winds of 20 knots or more, and east or north-east swells of more than a metre.

    Dogs are not allowed on foreshore areas of the marine reserve.


    Mahurangi / Warkworth Office
    Phone:   +64 9 425 7812
    Email:   warkworth@doc.govt.nz
    Address:   Unit 12
    30 Hudson Road
    Full office details
    Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 9 3796476
    Email:   aucklandvc@doc.govt.nz
    Address:   Shed 19 Princes Wharf
    137 Quay Street
    Auckland 1010
    Full office details
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